Exploring New Zealand by camper is most definitely the best way to see it in all its beauty, especially if you are lucky enough to explore by freedom camping. It allows you to be completely free in nature while saving money. And where better to experience this than on the captivating North Island of New Zealand?

The North Island of New Zealand is renowned for its vibrant cities, breathtaking coastlines, and rejuvenating geothermal pools. Whether you seek cost-effective campsites or awe-inspiring natural landscapes, freedom camping on the North Island fulfils your desires. Let’s delve into the finest freedom camping spots this island has to offer.

Advantages of Freedom Camping

If you’re contemplating a campervan trip in New Zealand with loved ones, or if you already live here and wish to further explore the secret, less populated spots, freedom camping is an ideal choice. Freedom camping areas are designated sites on public land that are distinct from traditional campgrounds or holiday parks. The advantages of free camping are plentiful, starting with the obvious benefit of saving money. While most NZ campsites can cost anywhere from $20 to $85 per night, freedom campsites are typically free or incur minimal expenses,such as a “honesty box”. In addition the freedom campground provides a very unique camp experience, typically a site situated on the beach or with perfect uninterrupted views. Most freedom camp spots known as the Department of Conservation (DOC) sites, are nestled in the heart of nature, offering a sense of freedom and excitement that comes with being off-grid and secluded amidst the enchanting beauty of New Zealand.

However to enjoy these benefits without incurring fines you will need to ensure your camper is fully self-contained and adhere to the freedom camping guidelines. These can be found here:


 Self containment certs will require the following (as a guideline)

– A toilet

– Wastewater storage and hose

– Freshwater storage

– Rubbish bin with a lid

We all know the NZ weather can be temperamental and depending on the time of year and weather conditions, you may also require access other amenities such as power (240v) this could help power your heating or air conditioning. Fortunately, there are excellent low-cost DOC campsites that offer many of the benefits of freedom camping, along with additional conveniences like power

Dawson Falls - Parking Area - Taranaki

This spot is a serene freedom camping spot nestled in the scenic Taranaki region of New Zealand’s North Island. Perfectly situated near Dawson Falls Visitor Centre in Egmont National Park, offering a peaceful setting surrounded by lush native bush and towering trees.  Freedom campers can really enjoy the epic 18m  Dawson Falls whilst exploring the various  hiking trails in the park, immersing themselves in NZ’s nature’s beauty. The facilities are basic but the campground provides ample room for all freedom campers. This picturesque location is great for all fully self contained campers. 

Maximum stay – 4 nights

What’s Nearby? – Dawson Falls area and the Puke Ariki museum.

Facilities – Basic , although a lodge onsite also for those non-self contained.

Reid's Farm - Taupo

Located just a about  three hours south of the big smoke (Auckland) and a short drive from Taupo, Reid’s ‘aka’ Hipapatua Recreation Reserve, awaits your arrival. The campsite is managed by the local council and offers epic views of the Waikato River and is conveniently close to the famous Huka Falls—an absolute must-visit attraction in New Zealand. There are also great hikes and walks to and around the falls.. As a freedom camping site, Reid’s Farm serves as an excellent base for exploring the captivating Taupo region.

Maximum stay – 7 nights

What’s Nearby? -The epic Huka Falls

Facilities – Basic, toilets and water from the river. (please remember to boil and sanitize before using)

Waikanae River Mouth - Kapiti

If you’re seeking a place to spend the night near Wellington and don’t want to book anywhere, the Waikanae River Mouth freedom camping site, operated by the Kapiti District Council, is worth considering. Situated just an hour outside of Wellington, this location offers scenic views of the river and access to captivating nature walks. However there is a catch,w with only five available sites allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, it’s advisable to arrive early to secure your spot.

Maximum stay – 2 nights

What’s Nearby? – Explore the nearby Nga Manu Nature Reserve.

Facilities – Basic, Dog-friendly.

Jones' Landing: Waikato

Nestled on the beautiful Waikato River, approximately 27 km west of Putaruru and a two-hour drive south of Auckland, you’ll find Jones’ Landing. Provided by the South Waikato District Council, this reserve offers a spacious, grassy area alongside the river, surrounded by striking rocky bluffs. While camping at this site is free, you must obtain a camping permit online before arriving.

Maximum stay – Up to 2 nights

What’s Nearby? – Visit the Redwoods Whakarewarewa Forest and enjoy bike riding on the Waikato River Trails.

Facilities – The campsite provides toilets, is dog-friendly, and features amenities such as a boat ramp, jetty, playground, and shower block.

Kaiaua Beach - Gisborne

For a picturesque camping experience on the beach, Kaiaua Beach campground is an excellent choice. Although this site accommodates tents it is also great for self contained campers. The campsite is managed by the Gisborne District Council and offers a serene coastal setting. Located just an hour and a half from Auckland, it serves as an ideal base for exploring local attractions in Auckland or simply enjoying swimming and fishing at the beach. Note that this site is only available from in peak season and requires a permit.

Maximum stay – 3 nights 

What’s Nearby? – Don’t miss the Nere Rockslide.

Facilities – None

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